By Kyla Hurt
Our Saviour School is establishing a pre-K for the first time in its history. The Our Saviour PreSchool will officially be in session starting with the 2017-2018 school year.
Our Saviour School Assistant Principal and Music Teacher Polly Jones spoke about the new pre-K’s arrival, talking about the work leading up to it and what the school looks to promote in its offerings. Jones noted that the idea for a pre-K, or prekindergarten, has been “in the works” for some time, which she guesstimated to have been over the last 15-20 years (Jones clarified that this is a rough number, as she is in her third year with the school). Regardless, Jones and Our Saviour School Principal Stevie VanDeVelde both worked actively and diligently since last fall with a committee of persons advocating for the start of a pre-K.
A few committeepersons were especially instrumental, according to Jones. Specifically, she praises longtime parishioners and former educators Sue Brosmith and Joan Ryan as each being two of “the big faces” that helped to raise money and also addressed the parish “with the passion for Our Saviour to expand into early childhood.” The two are original members of the preschool committee and have continued to advocate for the start of a pre-K, sticking through the “in the works” portion of the project as it seemed to get delayed by different hurdles until finally, about two years ago, the school decided to launch a capital campaign. Currently, there are nine persons on the committee. Former principal, Rita Carney, is on the committee, “so it’s wonderful to have her insight.” Both current kindergarten teachers are also on the committee, which Jones says is “very important … because here’s the thing … our pre-K teacher will be able to communicate with our kindergarten teacher and help for pre-K/Kindergarten readiness … so, it will help with reading and writing and such.”
By definition, a capital campaign is an intense effort to raise specified funds in a limited period of time, all for a certain goal. The capital campaign and the funds it created are allowing this longtime hope for the school to come to fruition. Those monies raised allowed Our Saviour School to proceed with the implementation of a pre-K.
The prekindergarten will be in an existing room, that has been expanded and renovated to make it developmentally appropriate, says Jones – “It’s a great space.” The goal is to expand further into two rooms. The school has hired a teacher, Amy White, who is an Our Saviour parent and is fully licensed for teaching early childhood. White will teach with a full-time aide, as well.
Jones continues about the prekindergarten itself, saying, “Our parents need to know what sets us apart.” Our Saviour PreSchool will be “SMART start” school, she says, just as seen in the new logo for that level of education. One difference about the school is that it will be loosely based on Howard Gardner’s “smarts,” says Jones. Gardner theorizes that, “It’s not how smart you are that matters, what really counts is how you are smart.” Gardner is credited with discovering that there are eight intelligences and each child can be smart in them. Our Saviour PreSchool will focus on: Self and People Smart (which includes social and emotional development with a religious component), Word Smart (language and early literacy), Body Smart (development of fine and gross motor skills along with physical education class and outdoor play), Number and Spacial Smart (mathematics), Music Smart and Nature Smart (centers, outdoor space).
Our Saviour PreSchool is partnering with On the Right Track Childcare Care, just down from them at 630 E. State St. The two have discussed offering a discounted care during the “off days” of a preschooler’s class schedule. “It’s a way to piece out your week as parents,” adds Jones. An after school care is also available at Our Saviour. The pre-K uniform will be comfortable and easy and for play, paint and the pre-K child.
For families or guardians of children, and those otherwise interested in gathering more information, there is an Our Saviour PreSchool Open House and Parent Info Night on Tuesday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Our Saviour Gym. That will be “the pentacle for us,” says Jones, “see families come in the door … present our powerpoint … and maybe even see little ones that night.” Our Saviour School is located at 455 E. State St. in Jacksonville. Online registration will take place on March 14. Those unable to attend the event may contact Stevie VanDeVelde at the school, 217-243-8621.